Legal aspects of the extradition of Migran Poghosyan
Former deputy of the National Assembly of Armenia, former head of the Judicial Acts Compulsory Enforcement Service Migran Poghosyan was detained by the Russian law enforcement bodies in Karelia. He is accused of embezzlement on a particularly large scale and abuse of office, as well as crimes under paragraph 1 of Part 3 of Article 179 and Part 2 of Article 308 of the RA Criminal Code.
According to the Special Investigation Service of the Republic of Armenia, in 2011, the defendant ounded two companies in the Panama Offshore Zone, using his official position to conclude contracts for the purchase of goods and the provision of services with organizations he manages himself through agents.
On April 13, 2019 the investigator of the Special Investigative Service applied to the court of general jurisdiction of Yerevan with a request to elect a preventive measure in the form of imprisonment against Migran Poghosyan was put on the wanted list by the court decision.
The issue of his extradition to the Republic of Armenia is currently under consideration.
At the same time, the accused was submitted an application for political asylum, which is based on the argument that Migran Poghosyan is being persecuted in the Republic of Armenia on political grounds, a decision on which is taken by the Commission under the President of the Russian Federation. Earlier, in 2016, criminal proceedings were initiated against Migran Poghosyan, but in 2017 they were terminated on the grounds of lack of corpus delicti.
Thus, the clash of interests between the prosecution and the defense is now expressed in the confrontation between two institutions – extradition and political asylum.
In order to give a legal assessment of the transfer of the accused from the Russian Federation to the Republic of Armenia, Let us consider the institution of extradition in the Armenian legislation.
The Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Armenia and the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation signed an agreement on legal assistance and cooperation in Moscow on 15.01.1993. By this document, the states undertake to provide each other with assistance, including assistance in searching for the persons who have committed crimes, disappeared, as well as in escorting arrested and convicted
According to this agreement, the request for legal assistance must is made in writing, and the request is executed within one month from the date of its receipt.
Extradition of the persons who have committed crimes in territory of the other side and vice versa, is supposed only according to the current legislation of these states and the interstate agreements.
The participants of the Agreement shall provide to each other with information on the initiation of criminal proceedings and, if necessary, on the effective sentence passed against the citizens of the Party concerned.
It should be noted that if such an agreement did not exist, the relations would be regulated within the framework of the European Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.
The Constitution of the Russian Federation also contains a provision on granting political asylum. A person in such status also cannot be extradited by Russia by the request of another state.63 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation does not allow extradition to other states of persons persecuted for political convictions, as well as for acts (inactions) are not recognized as a crime in the Russian
According to the second point of the Regulation “On the procedure for granting political asylum by the Russian Federation” of July 21, 1997, the Russian Federation grants political asylum to persons seeking asylum and protection from persecution or a real threat to become a victim of persecution in the country of their citizenship or in the country of their habitual residence for social and political activities and beliefs that do not contradict democratic principles recognized by the international community, norms of international law.
Political asylum is not granted by the Russian Federation if:
A person is prosecuted for acts (inactions) recognized as a crime in the Russian Federation or is guilty of committing acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations;
A person has been brought in as an accused in a criminal case or there is an enforceable conviction in the territory of the Russian Federation;
А person arrived from a third country, where he or she was not threatened with prosecution;
А person provided knowingly false information;
The person is a citizen of a third country, where he or she is not prosecuted;
Previously, under Russian law, political asylum had not been granted to a person arriving from a country with which the Russian Federation had a visa-free border crossing agreement. However, in 2017, this ground was removed from the list.
Returning to the issue of extradition, we would like to note that, in accordance with the established international practice, the law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Armenia may request the extradition of the offender in cases when:
1) the offence is committed on the territory of Armenia;
2) the offender is a citizen of Armenia;
(3) the offence was directed against Armenia and caused it harm.
The crimes of which Migran Poghosyan is accused are also punishable under the Code of the Russian Federation.
If the defence does not provide sufficient evidence that the case against the former head of the enforcement service of judicial acts has been initiated for the purpose of political persecution, the extradition is lawful and must be carried out within one month.
The granting of political asylum to Migran Pogosyan must be refused. In this case, the territorial body of the FMS of Russia gives or sends a notice to the person that his further stay on the territory of the Russian Federation is regulated by the legislation of the Russian Federation, which determines the order of stay of foreign citizens and stateless persons on the Russian territory.